Dance with Me / ダンスウィズミー [Dansu Wizu Mi] (2019)
Director & Writer: Shinobu Yaguchi
Cast: Ayaka Miyoshi, Yuu Yashiro, Chay, Takahiro Miura, Tsuyoshi Muro
Producer: Shoji Masui
Cinematographer: Kazuhiro Taniguchi
A female office worker, Shizuka Suzuki (Ayaka Miyoshi, former idol member of Sakura Gakuin), detests musicals but unintentionally gets hypnotized into dancing whenever she hears music. This causes real-life consequences such as very costly property damage. When she can’t find the hypnotist where she first encountered him, she embarks on a road trip to track down him down so that he can reverse the hypnosis. She meets others who join her along the way such as the hypnotist’s former assistant and a street musician.
This is a comedy musical but it’s not your typical musical where nobody bats an eyelash when everybody suddenly bursts into song then returns to the regularly scheduled story as if it was all totally normal. This movie actually shows the difference between the fantastical musical that Shizuka perceives while she uncontrollably sings & dances and the actual bewildered and sometimes horrified reactions of the people in real life. It’s ingenious and hysterical.
There are plenty of musical dance numbers and all the music is licensed. The songs are popular ones taken from different eras and will perhaps have more impact on a Japanese audience. But to someone like me who is totally unfamiliar with these songs, I found many of them to be catchy. I even caught myself involuntarily tapping my foot at one point to one of the songs.
The comedy works for a non-Japanese audience. Evidence of this being the Fantasia crowd laughing almost all the time. There are definitely a few gut-busting laughs in this one and lots of chuckles during the rest of the running time.
If there’s one disappointment I have, it’s that I wish a few of the musical sequences were actually a bit longer rather than sort of cutting out before the song finished. At least the one where two groups of guys dance battle each other. I would’ve liked to see more of that.
The main female characters are all pretty good in their own unique ways. Shizuka is almost constantly annoyed and exasperated. There’s the former assistant who plays the loud, wacky sidekick to Shizuka’s more straight-man act. Then there’s the sweet street musician who turns out to be not so sweet. Of course, Miyoshi, has the bulk of the dance and song work although the others are involved a bit in some of them. She absolutely shines in the musical sequences. She is a phenomenal triple threat talent.
This movie deserves to have a second screening at Fantasia. It’s the most hilarious musical I’ve ever seen. A definite recommended watch.
Seen in the theater at Fantasia festival
The director was in attendance for a Q&A which was funny and interesting. He talked a fair bit and said his favorite sequence was the dance in the office. He was stumped by the last question from one audience member who claimed one of the songs in the movie was also used in a past anime and asked if there was any significance to this. I don’t know if that was true at all but the director asked the audience member to sing the song to much audience applause. He ended up playing it from his phone. The director had no idea that the song was used in an anime previously and was going to look it up afterwards.
Also the director spoke briefly in English before the screening and actually said “bat shit crazy”. Can’t think of any director, especially a Japanese one, who has ever used that English swear word before in an intro to his/her movie.
Apparently, this movie has not yet been widely released in Japan.